Conscience and Consciousness (not a "con" but not a "science" either)


8 months ago by phoenix

When we’re disconnected from the world, from each other, from the past, from the future, it’s easy to see existence as a zero-sum game. You win all you can while others lose, and at the end, every chess piece goes back in the box. No piece has learned anything, some son or daughter will relive the same strife, same pains, similar social structure, same grind to get to some vague somewhere up there. Then, regardless of success or failure, they’ll go back inside the tiny wooden box at the end of the game, their turn to join the choir invisible is now, one more step in the great tragic game of human existence towards entropy’s eventual victory.

We think our tiny non-zero-sum games, are our children or our work in the best of cases. For the rest of us, life is a series of work-sleep-eat-shit-fuck-die (not necessarily in this order). In our children, in our work, we hope and believe we’ve created something lasting, people or structures better than us, better equipped and more conscious than we are as units (keyword is “believe”, synonym is “lie to ourselves”…)

But what if there’s a real connection there, to our past, to our future, to each other, a connection more profound and tenable than all our social media, more real than all our posturings (because after all, it’s based on blockchain data which have a cost to create and can’t be “Sybiled“or faked as in social media today).

What if that connection is forged from our past, and has a link to our future, our lives being a tiny bead in a long cosmic necklace of lives similar to our own, concurrently stretching far into the past and unfathomably far into a hazy future ?

What if we could have the actual data of the interactions of these beads, and see the fabrics they create with their knots and folds and patterns and loops and splices and tangles ?

I argue that this profound connection will make us feel like life is more than a zero-sum-game. It will give us meaning we didn’t have before, it will give us purpose we never knew existed before. It will give us the tools to mold our own destiny as individuals first and as a humanity then, one bead at a time.

We will have finally realized our place in the matrix, just by virtue of observing our concurrent significance and insignificance.

Which is pretty much what consciousness is according to some of the folks that have studied the topic.

“Consciousness is generally defined as awareness of your thoughts, actions, feelings, sensations, perceptions, and other mental processes,” explain psychologists Douglass A. Bernstein, Louis A. Penner, and Edward Roy (https://). I only have to add here the vector of time. Without time there’s no continuity, no procession, no causality. Extend that intergenerationaly and what we may be arriving at, is something I’ll temporarily coin “intergenerational consciousness“.

How does that tie with conscience, though ?

One definition argues that

“Conscience is the moral basis that helps guide prosocial behavior and leads you to behave in socially acceptable and even altruistic ways”

Freud elaborates further, well ahead of the above :

“information about what is viewed as bad or negative by your parents and by society—all the values you learned and absorbed during your upbringing. The conscience emerges over time as you absorb information about what is considered right and wrong by your caregivers, your peers, and the culture in which you live.”

Awareness of your connection to the past and future social structures, and how your ancestors navigated them, is your instruction manual for the life that’s ahead of you now. That will dictate both what you consider moral and good until you adapt those to the culture in which you now are called to live in. It makes you an investee, a stakeholder in the procession of beads before you, and you’ll be judged by the beads after you, at some point, as your society will judge you on the beads that came before you. That gives you instant awareness of your personal responsibility in this cosmic relay race.

It will make the present zero-sum game of intergenerational exchange of wealth, information, experience and impact on the world (karma for short) into a tangible, measurable and quantifiable property that will follow you from the day you are born. You’re no longer an empty slate now, but you carry with you the sins and blessings of your ancestors, transcribed in more than your DNA for the first time, in the annals of the Blockchain.

And I argue that’s enough to transform the typical zero-sum-game of an average life, into a non-zero-sum game of the ages, a place where your awareness of the past and its mechanics, tangibly transform you into someone that cares more about his future generations, than any generation before you.

-David Elton Trueblood, a Quaker, 1955

And then, in the midst of our earnest realizations, in the intimacy of our connection to the past, the future, and each other, in the finality of our snowflake of a life in the grand scheme of things :

Maybe we’ll find some meaning, and maybe that meaning will be to be excellent to each other.

Thanks for reading this far.